Sunday, 3 September 2017

Black Powder meets OHWG's (again!)

Some serious catching up to do. Too many fingers in too many pies recently, not to mention way too much time spent at a keyboard than was good for my eyes. Not helped by the fact that Blogger has been temperamental these days.

As I mentioned in my last post, we had another Napoleonic bash at my place. 

We were looking forward to this one, with four of us available this time for a game. And we actually managed to get two games in on the day. The first was a very scaled-down, abstracted version of the Battle of Wavre, 1815. For the second game we chose a scenario that was based on Langensalza, a tactical victory for the Hanoverians over the Prussians(!) during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866.

Both were taken from my now very-well-thumbed copy of Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames, and both proved to be challenging and fun. Huge armies of half a dozen units per side determine the fate of nations; truly, gaming in the (not quite so) Grand Manner. 

As I have often said, it's a stubborn myth that Black Powder- or just Napoleonics in general- only works with large games. Definitely not.

With 28mm miniatures on my 6'x4' table. We found that using the BP rules with the scenarios from OHWG makes for ideal games; having no more than six units a side leaves us with enough space for maneuver.

As before, out of a pool of ten units (4x infantry, 2x skirmishers, 2x artillery, 2x cavalry) each player rolls a dice and then consults a chart to see which six out of the ten will be available. This means that a player might be tasked with taking the village, only to find that two out of the six units are cavalry, which will not be of much use during the game. Or that you find yourself without the desirable artillery.

Fog of war: you fight the battle with the army you have, not the army you would like to have. It's a simple solution, but works well. The only downer is when your newly completed regiment of rifles or hussars is finished and ready to go; only for you to find out that they are too far behind the front lines to catch up, so they won't be seeing the elephant today. But them's the breaks.

Over the last year or so, we have been using the scenarios from Neil's book for quite a few games now, all set in different periods; Napoleonics, World War II, and even a few Viking vs. Saxon games (the only game where we used the actual rules from the book). The scenarios have always managed to provide with some interesting tactical challenges.

Sunday's games were to prove no exception. The table looked good, dice were fickle and non-partisan, and the scenarios themselves proved tense, being close-run things.

Remarkably- and mark this in your calendars, as you're unlikely to see its like again- Matt, "The Redcoat's Redcoat", opted to play the French this time. Which may well be why les bleus managed to win the first scenario, and to put in a very creditable performance in the second. He was taking on the British, led by Sada and Rod.

I actually wasn't engaged in the game myself; after setting up the terrain and scenario, I pretty much restricted myself to the roles of Kibitzer-in-Chief and combat artist. My real responsibility on the day was with the commissariat, as the troops needed to be victualed during the heat of combat (I do a pretty mean toad-in-the-hole).

Here are the (belated) pics, from our (sort-of) Wavre game:

'orrible little men..

A parley?  "Commanders of armies have better things to do than to shoot one another, by God..."
Classic Napoleonics; "Form square!"


This was also the last time that Rod would be joining us for a wargame, as after a number of years in Japan he made the decision to return with his family to Portugal, where his parents are now living.  So what better way to send him off than with the colour and spectacle of a Napoleonic game.

Rod has been a core member of our group since not long after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, so he'll be very much missed. On the other hand, I understand that a few Napoleonic battles may have been fought in Portugal and Spain, so perhaps a visit in the future may be in the offing for a bit of sightseeing.

Keep in touch, Rod!

I've more pictures from the second game that I will try to post in the not-too-distant future. This month, though, will see me painting more of my WW2 IJA.

The West Tokyo Wargamers will be putting on our first Bolt Action tournament on October 1st.  So this coming month it's organizing and sprucing up terrain pieces, as well as putting the finishing touches on my 750 pt. IJA expeditionary force. I'll be trying out my recently-acquired airbrush and compressor, too.

Matt will be there with his Fourteenth Army contingent, most others will be (of course) Germans of various flavours- Wehrmacht, paras, etc.  The Allies may include British Commandos, and French from North Africa or even Dien Bien Phu.

This will be the first time for me to take part in any kind of wargaming tournament.  As someone who has always played BA using an historically-organized Japanese force, against an historical opponent and fighting in suitable terrain- and who much more often than not been used to coming up the winner- I need to go into this with a different mindset.

Namely, I should expect to get royally clobbered.

I can't count on having much jungle to hide in, and I'll be most probably up against the likes of various SMG's and assault rifles, quad 20mm guns, Pz-85's, King Shermans, KV-FlammenChurchills and other assorted hi-tech and/or armoured nastiness. 

There's no hope for my beloved Ha-Go's and Chi-Ha's; Kat food.  Unless I end up finding myself matched against early Yugoslavs or Italians, going "tabi-to-toe" with enemy armour is futile- it would be like taking a Nerf ball to an Uzi fight. 

So I'm not even going to try. First off, there's not a lot anyone can get for 750 points. That means if someone decides to field a Stug-III- let alone an IS-2 or Panther- that's going to eat up a lot of points, and there won't be too much left in the way of infantry.

My plan is then to stay objective-focused, and to make the best of what I've got- lots of fanatical and resilient infantry.

I'll be taking as many infantry as I can squeeze into 750 points, including grenadier squads with light mortars. I'll be laying down smoke, playing aggressively, and trusting in numbers, Seishin and the Banzai! rule. Artillery is my real foe, so I'll have to keep moving.

And with big squads (or a larger number of smaller squads- I need to experiment first), I'll be rolling considerable numbers of dice. In that case, if faced with a better-armed but smaller force, the law of averages may be on my side once the cubes start rolling.

That's the hope. More likely I'll get waxed, big time. 

Which is fine, all the time I go down with panache, and in doing so hopefully give my opponents a few bowel-loosening moments as they experience the blood-curdling Banzai! charge... 


DeanM said...

Really great stuff, Robert. Great looking figures and I agree about using Black Powder for not just games with massive amounts of figures. Very inspiring.

Norm said...

Lovely to see your game and it is particularly nice to see the larger figure on the smaller table with rules for the elusive 12 foot table! Thanks very much - enjoyed.

grecian1959 said...

Robert great looking battle
have you seen warlord games releasing an 1812 Russian campaign supplement for BP in late September

Robert said...

"have you seen warlord games releasing an 1812 Russian campaign supplement for BP in late September

Yes indeed! It's been ordered, and is the subject of my next post that I'm in the middle of writing now.